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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Arthur Mostyn-Owen   28 May 1873

Woodhouse, | Shrewsbury.

28 May 73

Dear Darwin

I have received your book for which I am much obliged & shall read it as soon as it comes to my turn but several have bespoke it before me in this house.1 As you say you have one of your own likenesses I shall not send the one that is here—but hang it up along side one of your fathers which is also here—2 You enquire after my eye & the shot in it—3 for some few years after it got there it used to give me occasionally some slight pain but eventually came to the surface where it is now & never gives me any trouble— I may say that it was frequently of much service to me in India for when I wanted a month or two’s leave of absence I could generally get it by rubbing a pinch of cayenne pepper into the eye & then showing it to the local doctor who gave me a certificate that it required the attention of an occulist who of course resided where I wished to go for the term of my leave. Many times I got leave of absence when it was all my eye4

I am sorry to hear you complain of not having good health   I knew you were ailing after your voyage in the Beagle but I thought you had entirely got over that— I never trouble the Doctors I am glad to say and am thankful to be out of their hands— people tell me I ought to have the gout as my father had & my brothers have5—but remedy is very simple   Whenever I am the least out of sorts, in any way I take a spoonful of charcoal in half a tumbler of water—& that is sure to set me all right— you had better try it— I have prescribed it to many very poorly patients with invariable good results—some of them miraculous equal to Holloways pills6 &c &c

Some day when in London I will certainly take train & pay you a morning visit for you are very well within a mornings train from London. I have never made the acquaintance of your son, though I have heard of him7

Believe me | yours truly | A Mostyn Owen


Owen had asked CD for a copy of Descent (see letter from Arthur Mostyn-Owen, 21 May 1873 and n. 4).
See letter from Arthur Mostyn-Owen, 21 May 1873. CD’s father was Robert Waring Darwin.
CD’s letter to Mostyn-Owen has not been found. CD had accidentally shot Mostyn-Owen in the eye in 1829 (see letter from Arthur Mostyn-Owen, 21 May 1873 and n. 5). Mostyn-Owen served in the Indian Civil Service from 1832 to 1848.
All my eye: all humbug, stuff and nonsense (OED s.v. eye).
Mostyn-Owen’s father was William Mostyn-Owen Sr; his surviving brothers were Charles Mostyn-Owen and Francis Mostyn-Owen,
Holloway’s pills, an early patent medicine produced by Thomas Holloway, were advertised as curing a wide range of ailments, and were used throughout the British Empire.
Mostyn-Owen probably refers to George Howard Darwin, whose success in the final examination for the mathematical tripos at Cambridge University was published in The Times, 25 January 1868, p. 6.


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


He will keep the portrait of CD.

Letter details

Letter no.
Arthur Mostyn Owen
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Woodhouse, Shrewsbury
Source of text
DAR 173: 43
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8926,” accessed on 23 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21